Apr 25, 2018Service provided to Texas growers through strawberry research
Strawberries are proven to improve cardiovascular and brain health, as well as prevent some types of cancer. It’s no wonder Prairie View A&M University is trying to get ahead of the curve by finding ways to help limited-resource farmers successfully grow organic strawberries. According to the USDA, California produces 91-percent of strawberries in the U.S., with Florida providing most of the winter crop. Unfortunately, as it stands, Texas isn’t a top producer.
“Strawberry production in Texas only occurs on about 150 acres, mainly in the Poteet area,” said Peter Ampim, a research scientist with the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center at PVAMU. “We want to figure out if we can grow the crop statewide, especially with an increase in consumer interest and demand.”
The name of the three-year, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE)-funded, collaborative, multidisciplinary, and multi-state project is Evaluating Organic Pest Control Products for Strawberries in Combination with High and Low Tunnels for Limited Resource Farmers in the Mid-South. Other organizations involved include Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (Lubbock), the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville), and the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
“We’ve narrowed suitable strawberry varieties for Texas down to four, from previous research funded by the Walmart Foundation,” said Ampim. “We are now looking at different organic insecticide and fungicide combinations in this SSARE-funded project to see which works best at protecting the crop.”
Ampim shared his results at the 2018 Strawberry Workshop on March 26, with producers from Waller County and the surrounding areas.
“The project started with research at the front and center, but ultimately this workshop, and others that will be conducted in the future, is a service to the citizens of Texas. Through these activities, farmers will learn the best ways to sustainably grow strawberries, organically, to benefit their farms and families,” said Ampim. “My overall impression was this year’s workshop was successful. I look forward to sharing more of our results next year.”
– Marchita Shilo, Prairie View A&M University